Mark Island Lightkeeper's House, Winter Harbor, Maine


Wanted: a creative and reclusive history buff. Must possess an understanding of fresnel lenses, filtration systems, and rust converters. Knowledge of Audubon birds and butterfly species helpful, but not required. If interested, apply to the Island Heritage Trust, 1 Mark Island, Winter Harbor, Maine.

Prior to the 1990's, if you applied to be the caretaker of this lighthouse and dwelling, you had to be pretty limber as well. There was no pier from which to disembark from your boat. Instead, you had to leap to a rock ledge, and try to tether your boat simultaneously. It didn't always go well.

Nowadays landings are a bit easier:

It's particularly hard to imagine, but the first keepers of the lighthouse had fourteen children. Thomas Colby Small got the job after a fall from ship's rigging wrecked his seafaring career. Other people would have taken that as a warning sign to not start leaping on rock ledges, but apparently things worked out ok for the large Small family.

Thomas got the job in 1857, after the six acre island was purchased by the government for $175. They constructed a square, brick tower lighthouse connected by a workroom to a seven room wood frame dwelling.

It was painted white in 1878. The light was deactivated in 1933, but the same resourceful caretaker who installed the pier also installed replacement fresnel lenses and a simpler battery-powered light.

Since then, the Mark Island Lighthouse (otherwise known as the Deer Isle Thorofare (sic) Lighthouse) has been managed by the Island Heritage Trust. It's been on and off the real estate market since 2004.

The house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,004 square feet. It also has plenty of vintage charm:

Thanks to an Old House Dreams commenter, we know that the vintage stove is a 1935 Magic Chef 1400 in the rare cream color. Like the old stoves, the vintage furnishings really give the house a sense of place.

Except maybe in this bedroom:

If it were mine, I'd leave no doubt as to where you were:

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There aren't any photos from the lighthouse tower; instead all we're left with is this tantalizing picture of the iron spiral stairs (protected with rust converter) and a writer's dream set-up:

Some of the books that were written there:

Here's some of the artwork that was created there (and Etsy has plenty more):

That's not even including all the artwork that this view has probably inspired:

There's also an inspirational workshop, oil house, outhouse, henhouse and boathouse:

There should also be a birdhouse somewhere to help with those Audubon Christmas bird counts and the Fourth of July butterfly counts, just in case that's on your resume.

The Old House Dreams listing is here

P.S. The entry right below Mark Island on the National Register of Historic Places for Cumberland County, Maine is for another Longfellow House. This one was built in 1761 for Stephen Longfellow, great-grandfather to poet Henry. 

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